The Kingsway boy’s cross country team has been one of the dominant programs in New Jersey for the last decade.
Since 2011, they have won six Tri-County Conference overall titles, four South Jersey championships, and three state championships. In 2017, they set the State Group 4 record for fastest team EVER at the state championships. The quality of their performances has led to some incredible moments for the school.
However, with boy’s team losing the opportunity to compete at the South Jersey Championships due to COVID-19, the highlight for the season became its ability to build on the quantity of its impressive wins. Under the direction of long-time boy’s Head Coach Christian Lynch and girl’s Head Coach Caitlin Hess and assisted by long time coaching legend Mel Carter, Dan Murray, and alumnus Ryan Harrigan, the team was able to continue a few fantastic win streaks.
In an anticipated showdown with undefeated Timber Creek, the boys laid claim to the Tri-County Conference Royal Division title with its 19-36 win. Remarkably, it was their ninth straight divisional title.
Likewise, a few days later, the boy’s cross country team went into the Gloucester County Championships as a prohibitive underdog. They walked out with the team title. It also was their ninth straight county championship.
For some perspective, all of the boys who started those streaks are well out of college. They all have jobs. Many are married. Some have children of their own.
So how have these streaks gone on so long?
“Success breeds success,” said Coach Hess. “Our guys have had some great leaders come before them who have paved the way to this success.”
“Our guys feel a real responsibility to continue what other before them started,” continued Hess. “Our alumni over the years continue to come back year after year, so our current athletes know who came before them. They do not want to have to look the alumni in the eye after losing the streak.”
While winning major championships at the South Jersey and state levels have been the ultimate focus of the program, winning championships at a local level are considered vital intermediate steps. They have been used to teach the athletes how to handle the pressure that goes along with winning big major meets.
Losing the chance to compete for the South Jersey title was difficult for this crew of athletes. However, they took pride in continuing a tradition.
“We always say ‘Tradition Never Graduates’ at the beginning of each year,” said Hess. “The commitment to maintaining these streaks speaks to that.”
Certainly, this year, the tradition continued to walk the halls of Kingsway.
By Christian Lynch